8 Radio Show Ideas–with great examples included!

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Are you looking for excellent podcast & radio show ideas?

We rounded up 8 brilliant topic ideas for you.

And included examples you can listen to...

Ready to CATAPULT your mind to new frontiers of creative thinking? 

​Let’s go:

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1

Free-spoken true stories

What if your son went missing?

What if you survived a genocide?

What if you didn’t know what was wrong with you?

These are titles from the “This is actually happening,” podcast. 

A typical episode starts with someone candidly talking about their life story leading up to the event that changed their life forever.

It’s an immersive experience with heartrending episodes.

I promise you—some of the stories will make you teary as you soak in the raw emotions of the narrator.

There are no commentaries, just the person narrating.

Currently, the podcast is well over 130 episodes.

You can catch up with the show at The Permatemp Corporation website.

2

Radio dramas “theater for the mind.”

(mysteries, suspense, thrillers, comedies...)

Producing a radio drama is the equivalent of giving your listeners a movie for their ears or a theater on air.

During the old-time radio era (the 1930s to 1950s), radio mysteries and crimes stories were pretty popular with listeners. 

In fact:

You can still find these old-time shows on the achrive.org.

BUT, I'm guessing you want an example from this century.

Okay, I hear you.

You can take a look at Linetown.

It's a story about people from a small town in Tennessee, who vanished suddenly never to be seen again.

This modern audio drama has a huge following—showing that this radio show idea is viable.

3

Investigative journalism

It’s nothing short of exhilarating when you watch an investigative piece of journalism on the TV.

But can this be a suitable radio show or podcast idea?

Yes…and here is an example:

The Center for Investigative Reporting (a nonprofit news organization) partnered with the Public Radio Exchange to create Reveal—an hour-long audio program carried by over 400 public radios.

It features some award-winning investigative reporting with episodes such as “Hunting the ghost fleet, 10 years or life, and more!”

Okay—if you can’t hike through the jungles of El Salvador looking for shark-fishing pirates, there are pressing topics you can wade into back home.

I’ll prove it.

Have you heard of “Dirty John?”

It’s an investigative podcast hosted by Christopher Goffard of the Los Angeles Times.

It's about a handsome doctor who is not exactly who he claims to be…

But I ain’t gonna spoil it for you:

What I will tell you though, is that six weeks after its release, it had 10 million downloads. 

4

Radio game shows

Game shows are fun!

And this is a radio show idea loaded with potential.

I'll give you two examples you can look at:

The 3rd Degree” – a quiz game show recorded at different UK universities, which pits students against their professors.

Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me!” - a beloved game show produced by NPR and WBEZ.

It’s recorded in front of a live audience where guests and listeners are tested on their knowledge of the weekly news.

5

A one person story

How about selecting one person from history and creating a radio series about them? 

And where did I get this radio show idea? 

Well, from this podcast series: “Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty.”

It’s a podcast from Gimlet Media hosted by Reggie Osse—an entertainment attorney.

Reggie follows the life of Chris Lightly, a music executive who managed some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop before his abrupt death in 2012 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

6

Book reviews

Book reviews!

Yeah…and I ain't kidding.

You read the book.

Then, for 15 minutes to 30 minutes, talk about the characters, dissect its plotline and more!

And in case you’re wondering how it’s done, you can listen to this short book review from NPR (If You Ask Me Essential Advice from Eleanor Roosevelt.

7

Topics around money

From saving it to spending it to getting more of it—people need help with money.

This makes money a great source of radio show ideas. 

In fact, these are some radio show ideas off the top of my head: 

  • How to save more money?
  • How to reverse a bad credit rating?
  • Where can I invest my money?
  • How much do I need to retire at 60?

I know you may not be a financial expert. 

But if you feel out of your depth, there are bound to be personal finance experts in your area.

You can find their contacts online and invite them for a live studio session. 

If that’s not possible, you can interview ‘em through Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, etc.

Here is a great example of a show about money:

Planet Money” - an NPR podcast born out of the financial crisis of 2008.

8

Book readings & adapting books for radio

Books again? Yeah—just bear with me. 

First, you can narrate books and short stories.

For instance:

BBC Radio 4 has a series called “Book at Bedtime” that airs at 10.45 pm for about 14 minutes.

Next, base a radio show program on a book. An example of this radio idea is the Freakonomics Radio show.

It a popular spin-off of Freakonomics book that explores the hidden side of everything. 

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